John Logie Baird, who invented the mechanical television, is being honored in Tuesday’s Google Doodle to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the first mechanical television demonstration. Although he has been dead for 70 years, the Scottish engineer’s contributions to modern technology remain significant to this day.
A native of Helensburgh, Scotland, Baird demonstrated an early interest and talent for engineering. As reported by BBC, one of his earliest projects involved developing a working telephone exchange between his childhood bedroom and the bedrooms of his friends who lived across the street.
Although he attended Larchfield Academy, the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College, and the University of Glasgow, he never earned a college degree as his studies were interrupted by the first World War.
Due to his perpetual ill health, John Logie Baird was unable to serve in the armed forces. Instead, he began working as an engineer with the Clyde Valley Electrical Power Company.
Throughout the early 1900s, Baird worked on numerous engineering projects. However, as reported by BairdTelevision.com, he was specifically determined to design and build the world’s first working television apparatus.
Although he managed “to transmit a flickering image across a few feet” in 1924, the engineer gained worldwide attention with his January 26 mechanical television demonstration.
The demonstration, which was given in a small attic room in London, was observed by several select guests including members of the Royal Institution.
“They were shown a transmitting machine, consisting of a large wooden revolving disc containing lenses, behind which was a revolving shutter and a light sensitive cell. It was explained that by means of the shutter and lens disc an image of articles or persons standing in front of the machine could be made to pass over the light sensitive cell at high speed.”
To demonstrate his television apparatus, Baird manipulated the head of a ventriloquist’s dummy in front of a transmitter. The moving images recorded by the transmitter were displayed on two receivers, which were placed in the same room as the transmitter and in another room down the hall.
Although the image was described as “faint and often blurred,” the witnesses were stunned. With his crude, yet effective, demonstration, John Logie Baird became the man who invented the mechanical television.
— Telegraph Technology (@TelegraphTech) January 26, 2016
In 1927, Baird performed a similar demonstration “over 438 miles of telephone line between London and Glasgow.” One year later, he demonstrated the first successful transatlantic television transmission.
Over the next 10 years, the man who invented the mechanical television continued to refine his invention. Although his earlier apparatus’ produced “faint and often blurred” images, John Logie Baird continually improved the quality of his products and consequently the quality of the images they produced.
Although Baird’s mechanical television system was eventually replaced with electronic systems, his contributions to technology and the entertainment industry were extraordinary.
To celebrate the 90th anniversary of the first mechanical television demonstration, the man who invented the mechanical television is being honored with his own Google Doodle.
The Doodle, which debuted on January 26, resembles the 1930-1933 Baird “Telivisor” television set. The wide television set and television stand closely resemble John Logie Baird’s apparatus. However, instead of the “Baird” insignia, the television says “Google” in an artistic retro font and features a cartoon photo of the engineer in place of the television screen.
— RoyVives Anunciacion (@royVives) January 26, 2016
As described by Google.com, Google Doodles, which began appearing on the popular search engine’s front page in 1998, are randomly displayed to “celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists.”
In addition to honoring John Logie Baird, who invented the mechanical television, Google also introduced a Google Doodle honoring Australia National Day 2016, and the D4G AU winner Ineka Voigt.
[Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]